Pickled watermelon rinds. They’re a Southern classic that are crisp and sweet and tangy and oh so enticing. Tasting is believing. Here’s how to make them.
This watermelon pickle recipe makes a sweet and tangy treat that’ll remind you long after the season is gone. It’s also a nifty way to ensure zero food waste solution, so you can feel even better this summer and beyond while enjoying the, er, fruits of your labor.–Angie Zoobkoff
How to Make A Smaller or Larger Batch of Pickled Watermelon Rind
Feeling a little daunted by the thought of pickling 14 jars of watermelon rind? Or maybe you want to pickle a mountain of rind to gift at the holidays? This recipe can easily be scaled up or down. Follow the recipe below, and for every pound of rind, simply use 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. You’ll also want to add 1/2 cinnamon stick to each 1/2 pint jar.
Pickled Watermelon Rind
- Quick Glance
- 1 H, 30 M
- 12 H
- Makes 10 to 14 half-pint (250-ml) jars
Special Equipment: 10 to 14 half-pint (250-ml) jars and lids
- 1/2 watermelon rind (4 pounds or 1.8 kg)
- 5 cups granulated sugar (990 grams)
- 4 cups apple cider vinegar (946 ml)
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves (7 grams)
- 2 teaspoons whole allspice
- 7 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 1. Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife, remove the green skin from the watermelon rind and discard. Cut the white rind into 1 1/2-inch (4-cm) strips or cubes, leaving a little pink flesh attached to each piece for color, if desired. Toss the rinds in a large stainless-steel bowl and add enough cold water to cover. Let soak overnight, preferably in the refrigerator.
- 2. In a colander set over the sink, drain the rind and transfer it to a 6-quart (5.7-liter) or larger stockpot. Add enough water to cover and bring to a slow simmer over medium heat. Cook until tender but not soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in the same colander and rinse with cold water.
- 3. Take a small piece of cheesecloth, gather the cloves and allspice in its center, and tie to secure. In the large stockpot set over medium heat, combine the sugar, vinegar, spice pouch, and watermelon rind and bring to a simmer. Cook slowly until the rind is transparent, about 10 minutes. Don’t overcook it as the rind will cook again in the hot-water bath. Remove and discard the spices from the pot.
- 4. Place a piece of cinnamon stick in each of 14 sterilized half-pint jars. Using a wide-mouth funnel, ladle the watermelon rind into the jars. Evenly distribute the rind and the brine, leaving 1/4-inch (6-mm) headroom. Wipe the rims clean with hot water and place rubber lids and screw tops to seal. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. [EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information, please see the Canning 101 section in this recipe.}
- 5. Store the pickled watermelon rind a cool, dark place for at least 3 months before using.
Recipe Testers Reviews
Pickled watermelon rinds were something I grew up with, as my mom put some up every summer. They tend to be a sweet pickle, so they weren't really my favorite since I have more of a sour tooth than a sweet tooth. Looking at the amount of sugar in this recipe, I was expecting the usual. But these pickles turned out to be nicely balanced. Yes, they’re a sweet pickle, but they’re not cloying. You still get a good acid kick, and the spices add a bit of warmth. They’re attractive pickles on their own, and would make a lovely addition to any pickle plate. But remember you can also dice them up small and use as a sweet relish. It's a damn good pickle. I used 4 pounds watermelon rind, cut into batons 1 1/2 to 2 inches long and 1/4 inch wide, although the thickness varied with the rind, leaving just a thin strip of colored watermelon flesh. In a 6-quart pot, the watermelon plus water to cover came up almost to the rim. I opened a jar and tasted a pickle after just a few days. The pickles were pretty much perfect. I'm not sure 3 months with a cinnamon stick is going to do them any favors. A better idea (and safer from a food preservation perspective) would be to put the cinnamon sticks in the brine when you simmer the pickles, and not put them in the jars at all. Hands-on time is about 2 hours. Total time is 2 days...or 3 months, if you’re really going to wait that long, which I see no reason to do.
This recipe not only makes a marvelous and attractive pickled watermelon rind but it also nicely addresses food waste head-on. I made watermelon pickles once, years ago, and I am so happy to return to them now. That being said, I loved the hint to leave a little of the red flesh attached to make the prettiest pickle—a tip to definitely follow! An additional plus to this recipe is the certainty with which they state that the general ratio will work to increase or decrease the amounts based upon the size of the melon—for me, this would be a decrease, which can oftentimes be tricky! I am looking forward to gifting these—3 months out brings us nearly to the holidays, hard to believe! So far, so good, and I will be back with you after the leaves have fallen!
I did maybe sneak a few pickled watermelon rinds to test during the canning process. The rind still had a slight crunch to it and I could taste the sweet from the sugar and sour from the vinegar. The spice flavor wasn't detectable in the few pieces I tried. I’m curious as to how the flavor of the spices will come through after a few months—if you’ll be able to taste the combination of allspice and cloves or simply the cinnamon. I halved the recipe as the melon I purchased ended up being smaller than what the recipe called for. I cut the rind into 1 1/2-inch triangular pieces leaving some pink on each one. I think the instructions were good and easy to follow.